Jennifer Maggio

Why Competition Kills Ministry

I am an avid sports fan, particularly if my children are playing in the game! My children could be playing in the state basketball championship, the neighborhood's swim meets, or a chess game at school, and I'd be the most vocal fan on the sidelines cheering them on. (Just ask my husband!) There's no doubt I enjoy a good competition. Competition can be a healthy part of life if we allow it to push us to excel and do our best. However, competition can be a hindrance in ministry, if we don't keep it in check, and keep our motives pure. No, I'm not talking about a friendly competition of boys vs. girls at a summer youth camp. I'm talking about the concealed jealousy that other ministries are growing faster, other churches are doing more, other pastors are more eloquent speakers, etc., that fuels an ugly competition! 

Have you ever looked at another church, class, choir, or other ministry platform and wondered why they seem to be doing so well? What do they have that I don't? Why does his/her ministry seem to be so blessed?  Sure, we will likely never voice those things aloud, but we wonder them nonetheless. And that competitive spirit will make us behave like 10-year-old children instead of God-fearing Jesus lovers whose sole purpose is seeing the lost saved. So, what do you do if you find yourself struggling with a competitive spirit or jealousy in ministry? Here are a few tips:

1. Recognize that you bring unique gifts, skills, and talents to the table.  God gave you abilities that are a valuable piece of accomplishing Kingdom work. However, if we aren't careful, instead of praising God for the valuable gifts He has given to us, we can choose to focus on the gifts he has given another person and ask him why we don't' have those same gifts.

2. Understand there are different seasons and different reasons. We may never fully comprehend God's plan for our ministry, but trust that there is a plan. Yes, there may be another church growing faster than yours, or another Bible study flourishing in a different way than yours, but what God has called you to is no less significant. If one soul is saved because you have been faithful to your calling, then it has been worth it! Philippians 1:12 says, "And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped me spread the Good news." Paul was in prison when he was writing this letter! And yet, he understood that God's positioning allowed him to minister to people in prison that may have never heard of Jesus otherwise. Wow, that we could all have that perspective of God's timing and purposes. Focus on the blessing of being used by God.

3. Remember that God's purpose is greater than our agenda. Everywhere, every day, there are people that do not know the good news of Jesus Christ. They feel alone, forgotten. They are lost and hurting. Paul writes about those whose motivations are jealousy or rivalry in Philippians 1:15. But look what he writes in 1:18, "But that doesn't matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice." God can use a rock! He chose to use us! Let us rejoice in knowing that he can use us all in a variety of ways.

4. Check your motive. Sometimes, what began with a pure motive morphs into something else. Satan is a masterful deceiver. He can and will use ANYTHING to separate and divide. Why wouldn't he use ministry? Sometimes, the reason we launch a ministry or become involved in service started from a pure heart, but over time, we allowed a competitive spirit to take us on a ride that was left unchecked. Ask yourself, Why am I motivated to serve in the capacity I serve in ministry? Is my heart pure that I want others to know the Lord and grow in their walk with him?  Is my motive to serve the poor and hurting, completely unconcerned of who gets the credit?  

5. Celebrate others' victories. When you see a church grow or when a Bible study flourishes, rejoice with them as a fellow believer, that they are winning souls for Christ. If you are struggling with competition, this may be hard. But commit in your mind that any time you think of the ministry in a competitive way, you will stop and praise God in prayer for how he's growing his Kingdom. The more you practice celebrating other's victories, the more natural it will become. 

May we all know that we have an important role to play, that God has plans to use us to accomplish His will. And may we all celebrate with one another the victories of making Jesus more famous every day!

Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE


Understanding Spiritual Ties

Admittedly, when I was a young Christian, I always perceived the Holy Spirit as kind of "too spiritual" maybe "too unknown" or "too scary," so I just didn't talk much about it. My little church where I grew would often pray for the Holy Spirit to show up, but I often wondered if we feared that it actually would!  Sometimes, we fear what we don't fully understand.

Spiritual Ties is one of those subjects that didn't get mentioned much in my church, as I grew up, if at all. I found that myself and many of my Christian friends didn't discuss the things unseen, spiritual impact, or the warfare that takes place every day -- even though the Bible talks clearly about it. As I began a deeper work with singles and single parents in the church, I learned the topic of Spiritual Ties (also known as Soul Ties) was a must-teach for that special group.

Have you ever heard of Spiritual Ties? Admittedly, it was a new term for me in my early Christian walk, as well. I haven't found it to be a frequent discussion in churches. But spiritual connections are often referred to in the Bible.

Okay, so here are some of the ways a Spiritual Tie is developed:


* Sex (Eph 5:31)
* Close relationships (as in with Jonathan and David in 1 Sam. 18)
* Vows & Commitments (such as "I will always love you." "You and I will be together forever." And so on).

As you can see, Spiritual Ties can be really cool, as with Jonathan and David and the close friendship they had. I've had amazing spiritual ties with friends in ministry, long-time friends, and others that God brought across my path. They can be life-giving, empowering, and equip us to do ministry better. 

Spiritual Ties also exhibit the closeness and importance of sex inside marriage, outside of just the physicality of it, but rather the spiritual aspects. However, they can also be detrimental. Such as when we have sex outside marriage, a marriage fails, we pursue an unhealthy relationship, or we speak eternal vows that tie us (such as telling a boyfriend we will always love him and then saying that to ten other boys through the years).

Spiritual ties are dangerous when you have had sex with multiple partners, verbalized eternal commitments to others, pursued close unGodly relationships and friendships or had a failed marriage. It's important to recognize who you are tied to before you can break free from the tie.

Maybe you've struggled with this and didn't even realize you were spiritually tied. Are you a single mom who has struggled to move past the hurt from your ex? Do you struggle with commitment to a new friendship or relationship due to past hurt? Do you find it hard to end a relationship that you know is bad for you? Or maybe you feel like an ex has some type of "hold on you"? Have you struggled with sexual sin? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you have most certainly struggled with spiritual ties.

Let's talk about some ways to break free from ties:

* One way to break a spiritual tie is confessing sin, when applicable. If you have had sex outside of marriage, you have formed a spiritual tie to that person. You have to confess the sin and repent.

*If gifts were given in an unholy relationship, GET RID OF THEM. Don't hold on to a shirt, a teddy bear, a letter, etc., given to you in an ungodly relationship. You're inviting trouble into your home and head.

*If you have made a rash commitment to someone, (I will always love you. There will never be another man for me.), then renounce it and repent of it, aloud. And be careful not to keep doing it!

*Breaking Spiritual Ties also means forgiving the person. This is a tough one for single parents who have been hurt by an ex or who are still seeing a struggle with the commitment the ex has to your children (or lack of commitment). But if you don't forgive, you don't move on. He/She will have you captive to the past from now on. Release it.

*There is power in the name of Jesus. If you discover unhealthy ties in your life and recognize you need to break them, renounce the tie in Jesus' name, aloud (even if you aren't comfortable with it and feel a little weird).

Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE


A Prayer for When Your Child Runs from God

I was recently having coffee with a good friend, and I was sharing about a choice that one of my children made that I wasn't very happy with. I had taken that one incident in their life and turned it into a worst-case scenario. I began to cry and talked to her about my fears that my child would never get on track, or that bad choice would lead to another and then another, and eventually, the child somehow would spiral out of control, and there would be no hope. The conversation went on and on, and by the time I was done, I was a blubbering mess. (I can be a tad dramatic).

My friend pulled up her social media later that day and sent me a post written by a young man whose life was forever changed by the King of Kings. I shook as I read it. It inspired me, and I knew it was written to inspire you, too. I want to share it with you here:

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I woke up this morning, praying and thinking about the absence of the voice of a father in my life and how lost it left me – the dope, the crime, the search for identity, acceptance, and affirmation at any cost. I thought of the pain I endured and the pain I inflicted, just madness. I began to ask God, “Where were you then?” and He began to ask me, “Why weren’t you listening?” He then began to remind me of that voice, that voice I heard lying in bed 30 days into my first little vacation to the county prison. “If you don’t live my way, you’re going to live in this bed!” It was that same voice that would remind of the next and what felt like million times afterward when I’d get arrested and wake up in that same place. “I told you so, just listen to me,” I would hear. Or the times I’d get myself into situations that I shouldn’t have walked out of, people with guns drawn and murder in their eyes…yet somehow, they ran, as if they had seen a ghost or an angel. And I was left with an “I’m still here.” Then, the final time, when I was at the point of giving up, on kicking my addiction, I was mistakenly given a court date that sentenced me to a rehab program instead of prison, and I was told, “It’s gonna be ok, I’ve got you.” I’m noticing now the voice of a father wasn’t what I was lacking; it was the ear of a son. He was always speaking, but I was never listening, and yet he continued to pursue and love me. That’s a Father! And for that, I’m forever grateful. God in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows. (Psalms 68:5 HCSB) To all those out there who grew up without a daddy at home, listen up! Your Daddy in Heaven is speaking. He’s good. He loves you. – Chris 

Chris praying with a new friend

As I was sitting there reading this heartfelt story of a life changed, tears streamed down my face, because my friend would’ve had no way of knowing that this young man, this twenty-something named Chris, was someone I had prayed for years earlier.

I didn’t know him, but I had been in a Bible study with his mother when she shared about how broken her heart was for her son. This guy made a miraculous turnaround in his life through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and every chain that he lived in was broken. I’m sure the journey was long, and there is much more to the story. But he went on to marry an amazing young lady, and he graduated from a ministry school program in his local church, and he’s living a rich, full life for the Lord.

And the Lord was faithful to show me this story at a time when I needed some encouragement. Maybe you are there today and need that same encouragement.

I know there are single moms out there who will read this and cannot comprehend having your son or daughter go off track in their walk with the Lord. Maybe you are parenting young children, and it just doesn’t seem possible. Or maybe you have gone through those tough teen and young adult years, and your child simply never strayed. To God, be the glory.

But there are others who are reading this through tears, and you struggle with a teen or young adult who is off track. Maybe it is one or two bad decisions, and you fear it could get worse. Or maybe there are many, many bad decisions, and your child has become a full-blown prodigal. Maybe you are beating yourself up, as a single mom, wondering if it is something you did wrong or a thousand wrong choices you made. You fear that everything your child went through, and the father wound left by a dad who wasn’t around, will forever scar him or her and they’ll never recover. You worry that although you pray day and night, you may never see the fruit and that he is too far lost now. Maybe you fear that God doesn’t hear you or that your prayers are falling on deaf ears.

Moms, don’t you ever stop praying. Don’t you ever stop praying, day and night, without ceasing, believing that the Lord hears your cries. Continue, even in the darkest, hardest moment, when there is no earthly evidence that your son will serve God, keep believing he will. Keep journaling and praying God’s promises over that daughter who has strayed. For the Lord, your God is faithful. He will hear. He will see. Keep pressing, keep praying, keep pushing. God sees.

Editor’s Note: Here is a prayer you can pray for when your child runs from God:

Lord, hear my cry. Help me in these dark moments to recall your faithfulness to my children and me. Help me trust that You will bring my child back to You. Father, it is hard to imagine that my child will ever serve You- but You promise always to be faithful and never to forsake Your children! Lord, let that promise be true for my child. I pray today that my child would feel Your Spirit’s leading and not turn away, but lean into You. Give me the strength to endure and help me show my child Your love at every opportunity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

 

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

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